Quitting Coffee: The Guide (Part 1)

My original article about quitting coffee is the most popular piece on my site...a site about writing and personal development. What does this mean? It probably means that there are many people in the world who are thinking about getting rid of coffee and using their newfound dollars and brain power to be more productive and happier people. It also means that some people are wondering exactly how coffee affects them and if there is a less chemical and drug based way to serve their cravings.

It is nearly two years since I gave up coffee. The first year and a half of that time was while I was working at a Starbucks, so I can tell you right now, that no matter how tempted you are, you probably aren't as surrounded by the stuff as I was. For me, it was a combination of peer pressure, easy access, and no financial obligation (the stuff was as free as it comes). I figured out how to do it (a big money saver now that I no longer work there) and so can you! (cue cheesy infomercial music :) ).

Here's how we're going to work this. This first part of the guide will be about your first day. Part 2 will talk about your first week after coffee. Part 3 is your first month. Part 4 will be the foreseeable future. Part 5 will talk about the benefits of quitting coffee and quitting caffeine. Here goes nothing!

Quitting Coffee: Day 1

You have made the decision to quit coffee. You are extremely motivated the first night and you transition into your first day of caffeine-free bliss! It probably doesn't feel like bliss. You probably feel like absolute crap. As if your head is pre-emptively giving you the caffeine headache it thinks you deserve. This is where most people slip up. Perhaps you have forgotten to turn off the automatic coffee maker the night before. Perhaps you walk by the Starbucks and are too tempted to continue your habits. Maybe someone has bought you a cup at the office and you absentmindedly sip it. These are the things that are part of your routine on day one and you need to push them away.

The night before, make sure to shut off the coffee maker (or to make half as much if you and your significant other share the same coffee maker). Decide on a new path to work so that you don't go in front of the Starbucks. Tell your friends at the office that you're quitting coffee for medical reasons (whether you are or not, it's a good way to cut out the peer pressure and they may actually help you). Taking these initial steps will help you to remove some of the temptations.

As the day progresses, you may feel a headache and you may be extremely tired. Your body is actually used to certain chemical processes now (the binding of caffeine to adrenaline receptors to keep adrenaline circulating in your blood stream to be exact) and when you get your body used to something, it's tough as hell to convince it that another way is better. Yes, your headache and tiredness are symptoms of withdrawal, they are not cues that you should continue self-medicating.

Drink 8 glasses of water (or more) to try to reduce the headache. Headaches are often somewhat related to dehydration, so this may help to take the edge off. Going for an early morning workout (or at least an extra block or two walk) can increase the levels of endorphins in your body, which will decrease the sensation of pain. Apples have natural substances that act similarly to caffeine without the side effects. Bring 5 apples to work (organic if you can, to avoid chemicals) and eat one of those when you're feeling a bit droopy. Other fruit has similar effect, but stick to lower sugar berries as opposed to bananas, as too much sugar (even the natural kind) can make you feel sleepy.

Write reminders to yourself that you are quitting. Picture yourself as a wide-awake caffeine free and fit person. Eat a healthy lunch with vegetables and lean meats. Avoid the coffee shop again on the way home and follow it with a nutritious dinner.

This will be one of the first nights that your body has not had the let down from caffeine leaving your system. This may make your sleep irregular and you may feel a bit of insomnia. This will not continue forever and this is not a reason to get off of your GREAT idea of quitting coffee. Try your best to sleep and do the best you can to repeat the same positive steps on days 2 through 7 of the process.

Up Next: Quitting Coffee: The Guide (Part 2: Week 1)

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